JOLIET – Heading into work Monday, Pace riders who commute to downtown Chicago may notice fewer stops – and a quicker commute.
To bring faster times and more direct services, Pace has split its Route 855 into three different routes, with No. 855 starting in Plainfield, No. 851 starting in South Bolingbrook and No. 850 starting in North Bolingbrook.
A ridership increase along Route 755 also led Pace officials to increase services and make slight schedule adjustments. Route 755, which starts in Plainfield, once ended at University of Chicago/Medical District, but now ends at Chicago’s Union Station.
“That will get folks a little closer to the west Loop,” Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said.
During heavy congestion or rush hour, Pace buses along the four routes can use the shoulders along Interstate 55, thanks to the suburban bus agency’s expansion of the 2011 pilot “Bus on Shoulder” program, Wilmot said.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law last week a plan that makes the bus agency’s Bus on Shoulder program permanent.
The program has made Pace more attractive to riders, Wilmot said.
“I think people who would be sitting in congestion during their commute downtown every day would see the bus pass right by on the shoulder and get downtown more quickly,” Wilmot said. “It’s not too long before they give it a try. We’ve not only been able to convince riders who are already with us to ride more frequently, but we’ve also attracted new riders.”
Route 755 saw just 36 riders in June 2011 – before buses could ride along shoulders during rush hour. Ridership last month on Route 755 stood at 262 – a 628 percent increase over three years, Wilmot said.
The program has allowed Pace to increase its reliability in scheduling and arrival times, Wilmot said.
“Prior to the program beginning in 2011, we didn’t publish a complete outbound schedule because there was just no way to accurately predict travel times,” Wilmot said. “Now, not only can we give folks some idea of when they’ll arrive home, we’ve been able to improve on those times.”